What About The Healthcare?
My father was the second identified Panamanian to be diagnosed with COVID-19 early in the pandemic. He had to fight hard to defeat the virus while my mother and brother were luckier with less severe symptoms. When he needed it, a ventilator was available, as were the medicines and highly skilled healthcare providers. He is fully recovered but contracting the virus taught us not to take good health or access to great healthcare for granted.
One of the most frequent questions I am asked when people are considering a move to Panama is about healthcare. I am always grateful for the question however because it tells me the individual is doing appropriate research, planning ahead, and realizing the need to have a personal healthcare plan.
Hiding Panama’s Healthcare Light
As a country, I don’t think we have done a very good job educating other populations about many of the things we take for granted, including the fact we have exceptional, affordable and accessible healthcare. Panama City has most of the best facilities and practitioners, but there are good facilities out in the country and just about anyone can afford to access care.
Medicare, both the kind offered in Canada and United States, is not honored in Panama. Well, for veterans from the United States there is the Foreign Medical Program, which is specific to conditions related to time served and it is tightly controlled by rules and regulations. If you are a US veteran, go here https://www.va.gov/COMMUNITYCARE/programs/veterans/fmp/index.asp to do your research, otherwise, research what healthcare is really like in Panama.
Count On $25-$50 a Visit; 90% Less for Insulin
Routine doctor visits are easily obtained and inexpensive and almost all physicians speak English as many have advanced training in the United States, Canada, or Great Britain. A visit with your internist can run as much as $25, but you will experience a comprehensive and unrushed visit. If you are sent on to a specialist, the cost might be as much as $50 depending on where and for what you receive treatment. For example, Panama City is more expensive than David, a city located along the border with Costa Rica.
Prescription medications are inexpensive in comparison to prices in the United States, and to a lesser extent in Canada. Insulin in Panama can be purchased over-the-counter without a prescription and for almost 90% less than the average cost in the United States. The popular and expensive blood-thinner prescribed for atrial fibrillation (afib), Xalerto, is 82% less expensive in Panama than in the United States. Even with prescription insurance in the States, you pay more in a co-pay than you would out-of-pocket in Panama for Xalerto.
The medications in Panama come from the same manufacturing plants and pharmaceutical companies as those filling the scripts in the States. For example, Xalerto in Panama generally comes from the Bayer manufacturing plant in Germany and distributed by the Johnson & Johnson subsidiary, Jansen.
Routine Care Is Not Enough
But routine care is just a small part of the equation when it comes to healthcare. Everyone, young and old, must plan on how they will handle a serious healthcare crisis. I was speaking with a 24-year-old ex-pat who explained he was doing heavy-duty physical therapy to get back on his bike after a serious crash. “Think of me as Tiger Woods,” he said with a smile. “I was going along just fine and then I’m flipping through the air. My right leg, like Tiger’s, took the worse of it, including an open fracture. I’m young, in great health, and I felt pretty indestructible,” he continued. ”Not worried about high blood pressure and bad colostral.”
The young man explained he was technically insured, on his parents’ US policy, but that he hadn’t checked about being covered in a foreign country. “As it turned out, I really wasn’t covered,” he explained, “so I was reasonably panicked about how I was going to pay for the great care I was and had received. I mean the surgeon gave me his personal cell phone number. The physical therapy was cutting edge.”
Exceptional Care In Emergencies
In the end, the young man’s parents’ wired the $15,000 to pay the bill in full, including the hospital stay, all the imaging tests, the two different surgeries, physical therapy, medications and follow-up visits. “I’m not going to play in the Masters, but then I really don’t play golf,” he continued joking about Tiger. “I will, however, fully recover and resume my outdoor physical activities. The care I received in Panama was certainly as good as anything I would have received at home.”
There are all kinds of insurance policies available for foreign nationals. The important thing is for everyone to know the options and select what is best for them. There are both public and private healthcare providers and depending on what type of care you want, that sets the tone for how you may want to pay for healthcare. Public care is almost free, but it requires time and patients. The care is similar since all medical professionals in Panama are required to work at public facilities along with their private practice.
Health Insurance For $100 A Month
A healthy individual in their 50s can get a great policy for around $100 a month. There are also policies that can be purchased in the United States or Canada such as GeoBlue, part of the Blue Shield Blue Cross network, https://www.geobluetravelinsurance.com/product_overview.cfm
that are reasonable. Less reasonable, but not crazy expensive, is buying Air Ambulance insurance if you want to make sure you can be returned to your home country for care.
The explosive growth of medical tourism in Panama has increased the options and lowered the cost for most procedures. With the two Johns Hopkins International Medicine facilities operating in Panama City and Costa del Este, straightforward procedures such as hip and knee replacements are being offered at “Ex-pat Package” pricing and include everything from the surgery, hospital stay, imaging tests, medications and physical therapy. The cost is more than half what it would be in the United States and often times less expensive than just the co-pay with Medicare.
Eyes, Teeth, and Stem Cells!
Stem cell procedures in Panama are treating everything from rheumatoid arthritis to multiple sclerosis and many of these procedures are not offered in the States. Other procedures include all types of dental and vision surgeries. The cost for this medical care is so attractive, large companies are working with providers in Panama to send their employees, along with a caregiver, including plane tickets, meals and transportation to Panama for treatment.
Long-term care is an option Empresas Bern is exploring for their new residential offering, Generation Tower located steps from the Hopkins hospital in Costa del Este. The program, for individuals over 55-years-of-age, includes meals, health monitoring, accessible one-bedroom condominiums, planned activities, and transportation. Think golfing with friends, dinners with fabulous wines and fresh seafood, and a totally supported co-working business center for continuing to manage as much work as desired.
Healthcare–An Important Piece Of The Puzzle
Healthcare has gotten so expensive in the United States that paying for and having access has become a major factor in how and when someone might retire or move to a different country. We would love to discuss with you the different options available for great medical care in Panama. Let one of our sales professionals work with you to explore healthcare options along with real estate investment. Contact us today by phone at 507.214.2376 or by email at [email protected]. Our website is: https://www.empresasbern.com/?lang=en
We’d love to show you around our beautiful country. Ask about our “Try Before You Buy” program!
Mikkel MollerMarch 26, 2021 4:45 pm
For the Retired or “On Disability” Military there is the VSO Program with Clinics in Panama City, La Chorrera, Chitre & David. Also, many of the “Small Town/Village” Clinics often cost only $2 to see a doctor and the medications prescribed by the doctor are generally very inexpensive, if not free. We have been in Panama for 8 years and self insure, never have had a problem receiving excellent care.
Douglas HardyApril 1, 2021 11:26 pm
Sounds great. When will Generation Tower be coming available? What is the price range expected to be? Very interested. Doug
Jose Manuel BernApril 6, 2021 6:22 pm
Hello Douglas Hardy Thank you for your comments, we have assigned one of our advisors so that he can answer all your questions about this project.